Can the Slow Play Problem Ever Be Solved?

Last night I was watching The Golf Fix, on which host Michael Breed (bless his heart) gave us his new idea on how to speed up play. He called it One In, One Out, in which you don’t put the club you just used back into the bag until you get up to the ball and are ready to take your next club out. That saves you the time you take fiddling with your bag instead of just getting in your cart and taking off. Multiply that by all the times you fiddle with your bag during the round and you’ll save some time, but he didn’t say how much.

By the way, for readers of this space who do not live in the U.S., the term “bless his/her heart” is code, spoken parenthetically, for saying someone is a complete fool, but without having to actually come out and say that, preserving a veneer of courtesy. It’s used in the southern United States in almost every other sentence.

Note: Michael Breed is not a complete fool. He’s really a pretty smart guy. But I think he’s being a bit optimistic here.

You’ve all been behind two guys in their cart who drive up to a ball, one of them crawls out of the cart, goes to his bag and inventories his clubs, takes one out, takes the clubhead cover off, looks for a place to put it (how about the same place you put it the last ten times), goes to his ball and hits it (we won’t go over the process that entails), saunters back to the bag, looks for the clubhead cover because he forgot where he put it, finds the cover, puts it on the club, pokes around looking for the slot in the bag where he can put the club back in, puts the club back in, looks around, ambles back the cart, crawls in, and moves on. His partner is the same, and these guys are going to sign up for the One In, One Out plan. Right.

The problem with slow play is slow people. They think slowly, they act slowly, they do everything slowly. There is no picking up their pace because they don’t know how to, not from a sense of not knowing the tricks, but because it is part of their constitutional makeup to be slow. Even if they adopted every tip imaginable with every intention of playing faster, they do them slowly and nothing would change. These are not bad people. It’s just who they are. It’s how their brains work. They cannot be rushed.

If the cause of slow play is the basic nature of the player, can anything be done? In tournament play there are penalties that can be assessed. In recreational golf, no. You can ask to play through a slow group ahead of you. If the group ahead is excessively slow and won’t let you play through, you can call the clubhouse and ask for help. Best not to force the issue yourself. Remember, people take this personally.

The best you can do is not be a slow player yourself, just like you don’t use your cell phone while you’re driving. It’s only other people who do that.

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